Noonan could be right: Obama builds a big lead, seems ready to break through to landslide, then faces a backlash. But we've seen this movie before. She's describing the primary battle.
Everyone in New York is saying, "What will happen?" "How do you see it?" "Who will win?" In this year of all years, who knows? My sense of it:
The campaign will grind along until a series of sharp moments. Maybe they will come in the debates. Things will move along, Mr. Obama in the lead. And then, just a few weeks out from the election, something will happen: America will look up and see the inevitability of Mr. Obama, that Mr. Obama has already been "elected," in a way, and America will say, Hey, wait a second, are we sure we want that? And it will tighten indeed.
The race has a subtext, a historic encounter between the Old America and the New, and suddenly the Old America—those who are literally old, who married a guy who fought at the Chosin Reservoir, and those not so old who yet remember, and cherish, the special glories of the Old—will rise, and join in, and make themselves heard. They will not leave without a fight.
And on that day John McCain will suddenly make it a race, as if moved by them and wanting to come through for them one last time. And then on down to the wire. And then . . .
And then. What a year, what an election. It continues to confound and to bedazzle.
If the general election does follow this trajectory, angst-ridden Obama supporters would do well to channel the man himself. Here's what he told Fox's Chris Wallace on April 27:
One thing I'll say for Obama: he is not fortune's fool.
WALLACE: What mistakes have you made? What have you learned about running for president? What have you learned about yourself?
OBAMA: I’ve learned that I have what I believe is the right temperament for the presidency. Which is, I don’t get too high when I’m high and I don’t get too low when I’m low. And we’ve gone through all kinds of ups and downs.
People forget now that I had been written off last summer. People were writing many of the anguished articles that they’re not writing after our loss in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, after Iowa, when everybody was sure this was over, I think I was more measured and more cautious.
That I think is a temperamental strength.